Coming out of Night Prayer into the first Great Silence I had entered in over three years, I heard God’s voice clearly say, “Where have you been? I have missed you.” Holy One, I have been busy. Otherwise occupied. Doing church work. Caring for my family. Indulging myself in things of little consequence and listening more to the screaming monkeys in my head than to you. But this is the week I set aside for the One who has waited without judgment.
Some in my circle call it “Monk Camp.” Actually it is the Academy for Spiritual Formation, a deliberate community designed with study, prayer, worship, and silence in each day. It is a rhythm that has blessed my days and grown my faith and increased my love of Christ and the Beloved Community for years. What I had not realized was that in leading the community, then leaving the community, I also left the great silence and deep listening to God behind.
God is patient; God waits even for those of us who are wayward. Oh, I played the music and sang the songs, and even prayed the liturgies. But extended periods of silence were not sought and not lived. I have loved God and served where I could. And I participated in small bits of silence – in lectio divina, in Lenten Listening, and in my little closet of prayer. Still, not a Great Silence.
Where have you been? I have missed you. I have really good excuses, Holy One. Important excuses. So why is my yearning so deep; why is my spirit so dry? So how much silence is enough? My experience this past week is that I don’t exactly know how much is enough, but I do know that what I have been living is not enough.
Tom scattered grass seeds the last time we were here at the river. As we drove in yesterday afternoon, we saw the parched and withered blades thirsting in the heat of the day. The first thing Tom did was to get the sprinkler going on the grass. Water, sweet water to quench that which appeared dead. I think it would be hard to over water the grass at this point; the heat of the day is still great.
This morning there is a little greening happening, both in the grass and in my spirit. At the feet of two great teachers, in a covenant community, and in the Great Silence, greening happens. Where have you been? I have missed you. I may have forgotten, but God did not. Thanks be to God.